Since we first decided to include Seattle in our roadtrip plans, I have been begging and pleading and probably driving Ryan insane with my many reminders of the fact that I wanted (I may have said needed) to go to the Boeing Factory just outside of Everett. We missed stopping on our first trip through the state, but Ryan agreed that we would return after the wedding in Victoria that he needed to photograph.
I'm lucky to be in love with somebody who keeps his promises. After a nice week on Vancouver Island we caught the ferry back to Anacortes, Washington. We found a site to pitch our tent and called it a night, resting up for the next day. We had tickets for a tour of the Boeing Factory and the aviation nerd in me could barely contain her excitement.
We woke up well rested and packed up our site, moving to another campsite on Camano Island. We didn't waste time blowing up our air mattress or making the bed cozy, we simply pitched our tent, got back in the car, and headed for Everett. Turning off on Boeing Freeway we spotted our first glimpse of the massive factory; the biggest building in the world by volume. It was love at first sight.
Surrounded by jumbo jets sporting the logos of dozens of different airlines, I knew that we were in store for a great day.
We parked and admired the view as we walked in to the Future of Flight centre. We'd arrived early for the tour, so we spent awhile wandering the gift shop to pass the time. There was another gift shop dedicated solely to Boeing, but I insisted that we save that for the end of the day. It was finally time to go! We piled into an auditorium where we watched a short video about how air travel (specifically Boeing) has changed the world. After that we were loaded onto our bus and began the trip over to the factory. Ryan and I sat at the very front, being complete nerds and bombarding our tour guide with questions.
Our first stop was the production line where the 747-8 planes are assembled. I wish that I could share photos, but cameras are strictly prohibited on the tour. The huge planes sat in various stages of completion. I may have been crew on the A380, but that doesn't make the 747 seem any less amazing.
Next stop was the production line for the 777. This was more familiar territory for me. In fact, I even spotted a plane being built for my former airline. The cool thing about this assembly line is that the entire thing actually moves 1.6 inches each minute to make production faster and easier.
The last stop on the tour was the 787 Dreamliner production line. We felt privileged to be among the few who have seen the aircraft so far, as it's yet to take its inaugural passenger flight. We listened to the many amazing features of the aircraft and caught a glimpse of the very first plane that will be shipped off to All Nippon Airways in Japan in just a few short weeks.
The tour was over and we were of course released directly into the Boeing gift shop. Ryan and I knew that we'd never escape without spending a small fortune, but we didn't care. Who doesn't need airplane shaped slippers or Boeing jackets or an incredible (and pricey) bag made from vintage aircraft materials?! We spent a great deal of time as I went back and forth contemplating whether I needed to own the bag or not, before finally coming to the realization that I was unable to leave without it.
I won't comment on how much we spent or how long we stayed in the gift shop, but I can assure you that it was more than enough to make us very happy.
Once we'd spent a sufficient chunk of cash we quickly walked through the Future of Flight gallery and onto the viewing deck where we were rewarded with a view of the runway and all of the nearly completed aircrafts on the tarmac. We were excited to spot the Dreamlifter, an aircraft built for the sole purpose of transporting aircraft parts. It was a rather interesting looking plane, and to our satisfaction we were now free to take as many photos as we'd like.
We watched a few planes take off and land, and just as the building closed we stood with several other photographers begging the employee to let us stay just a few more minutes as a Dreamliner was about to take off. He obliged, allowing us to watch and snap photos as it headed down the runway. How lucky we were! We watched it take off, impressed by how quiet it was in comparison to other planes of the same size.
The building was closing and we were forced to leave, but that didn't stop us from hanging out in the parking lot. We continued to watch planes for awhile until deciding to finally go for dinner.
We made our way to a busy Chinese seafood restaurant where we dined on amazing dishes that tasted far better than any I've ever had in China. Full beyond the point of being able to walk, we waddled back to the car and returned to Boeing. Yes, again. The tour guide had explained that most of the action takes place at night to prevent car accidents as the factory is right beside a freeway and definitely a distraction. We sat for awhile, but nothing happened so we decided to finally make our way back to our campsite.
We had failed to consider the fact that the gate might be closed as it was nearly midnight. Fortunately, I was able to open it and we drove in quietly so as to not wake up anyone camping. All of that effort went out the window when Ryan accidentally pushed the alarm button on the car remote, likely waking up all of our neighbours. Embarrassed, we retreated to our tent and settled in for a good night's sleep after an amazing airplane filled day.
My new airline flies only Boeing, and I'm excited to spend my days cruising the skies on them!